Mozartiana as an Antidote to TV

January 27, 2011

Maybe I’ve been watching too much TV, but I’ve been finding the barrage of commercials annoying. It was such a relief to be sitting at David Koch Theater and just have the time to watch NYCB’s pristine Mozartiana. It wasn’t one of my favorite ballets before, but last night, it struck this wonderful cord with me. Wendy Whelan moved with such unhurried calm; her arms levitated into high fifth. Her praying motion was totally felt, but never extravagant, never showy. This ballet definitely clears a space for contemplation. 


Tyler Angle partnered her, stepping in for his older brother Jared. Their eyes connected as soon as they came out together. She, having already done her opening solo, was welcoming him, the newcomer. Such a lightness they shared together! He brought a freshness and springiness to those beats. Her slow port de bras did not prevent her from being right on the music in her stops. Whenever she stepped forward, it was as though she was joyously meeting her fate—and at the same time, greeting us.


After Mozartiana was over, I overheard a woman behind me say she thought it was a staid ballet. I have also sometimes felt that Balanchine’s ballets were too staid—or too polite or too orderly. But last night I was so in the mood for this orderly, spare quietness. Outside, the tree braches were white—so beautiful in the darkness. Every tiny twig was supporting more than its share of snow piles. That’s what the four little girls were like in Mozartiana—carrying more responsibility than their age would warrant.


It was a satisfying program, with Daniel Ulbricht as a moving Prodigal Son, and a decent (if not terrific) cast in Robbins’ New York Export: Opus Jazz. But I already love those two ballets, so if I start writing about them now, this blog would never end…




Wendy Whelan and students from SAB in Balanchine’s
Mozartiana. Photo by Paul Kolnik, Courtesy NYCB